Bench

Corner Talk theatre really manage to capture the chaos of life with their devised piece of compiled short scenes all centred round the single piece of set: a bench. The cornucopia of existence on display includes a student addicted to Bonjela, an arguing couple, drunk friends playing would-you-rather, and a man in a park whose wife can’t have children. 

Their wide-eyed enthusiasm gives a touching sense of open possibilities.

The scenes range from a couple of seconds to two minutes in length, meaning that it’s impossible to invest in any of the scenarios or characters. By the end it all becomes a bit hellish as snippet after snippet of underdeveloped action move by in a relentless stream. Occasionally the company’s youthful naivety is endearing, however mostly the melodrama is gratingly over-exuberant.

The four performers (Orla O’Sullivan, Alec Clements, Andrew Bennett and Victoria Horan) begin the piece stretching and grunting nonsense words, before launching into the first few scenes. The language throughout is clichéd; a couple in an argument repeat ‘we are broken’ with no indication as to why. Swear words are used gratuitously in almost every scene and replace the emotion expressed.

Characters speak in ways that no one actually speaks, and the language feels mostly clumsy. However, occasionally a stylised monologue feels somewhat deliberate. O’Sullivan is the most captivating of the bunch and delivers a moving piece. She begins questioningly – ‘what kind of a person am I?’ – and proceeds to hint at a sinister past, telling us repeatedly ‘I was ten’. Her still, committed delivery is a welcome respite. Another stronger scene is when the group perform together as children telling us what they want to be when they grow up. Their wide-eyed enthusiasm gives a touching sense of open possibilities.

The group’s mash-up of styles, from moody drama to the absurdly comic makes for a chaotic piece of theatre, and by the end this is clearly stated as the group’s intention. It is an interesting idea, and makes for a unique experience, although the execution needs to be better.

Reviews by Kate Wilkinson

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★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Four actors. Plenty of characters. One bench. Bench is a brand new show from the newly formed theatre company Corner Talk! We bring you a fast, sharp and intriguing tale exploring the human mind and its funny little ways. And yes, the fluid action of the piece centers around a single bench. From wit to worry from fury to funny, Bench will take you on a voyage, exploring the human mind and its funny little ways.

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